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  • National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics Keemilise ja Bioloogilise Füüsika Instituut

    Activity Report 2011–2014

  • National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics

    Activity Report 2011–2014 NICPB 1980–2015

    Based on the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge (TR WoK) Essential Science Indicators NICPB is among the top 1% most cited research institutions in physics since May 1, 2013.


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    Kujundus OÜ Vali Press

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    NICPB Mission Statement

    NICPB is a professional science institution, where the main task of the scientists is research that values academic freedom. NICPB carries out fundamental and applied research and engages in the development of the novel directions in material sciences, gene- and biotechnology, environmental technology and computer science. NICPB helps to educate new generations of scientists in accordance with association and other contracts with the universities and other academic institutions. Institute introduces its work regularly in other research and degree-granting institutions, in specialised literature, scientific conferences and public media.


    NICPB is an integrated and effective scientific institution, where all employees recognise their responsibilities and possibilities in achieving the goals of the Institute. NICPB`s reputation is based on high-level research, initiation of innovative topics and development of competence and scientific infrastructure at national and also international level.


    The foundation of the Institute (started originally inside the Institute of Cybernetics), the Laboratory of Chemical Physics (LCP) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 and then gave birth to the Laboratory of High Energy and Theoretical Physics (LHETP), based on a workgroup in the LCP. By now the youngest lab – also youngest by the average age of its members - has grown bigger than any other lab except its parent lab. In the fall of 2012 the former Laboratory of Molecular Genetics was renamed the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology (LET). Tuuli Käämbre was elected the Head of the Laboratory of Bioenergetics as Prof Valdur Saks retired from the post but carries on as a research professor. An important milestone for the Institute was the on-site visit of the Institute’s International Science Advisory Board (SAB) and evaluation of the research in the Institute in June 2012. The evaluation involved an in depth review of the main research programs, tours of the facilities and laboratories, discussions with younger researchers and potential leaders, and a panel discussion on new initiatives and strategy. The SAB concluded that: “The Institute is sound and well run, with a good relationship between the Staff and the Director. Over the last few years, the NICPB is evolving a strategy and direction that will be beneficial for the Institute and for Estonia as a whole, and despite some structural and financial impediments, is performing well scientifically. There are many high quality science programs, of international calibre, across the disciplines but including high energy physics, quantum condensed matter physics, NMR spectroscopies, toxicology, and bio-energetics. These programs increasingly make interdisciplinary links within the Institute, and some also support substantial national and international collaborations.” The recommendations given by the SAB were duly considered by the Scientific Board, which then adopted Institute’s new Strategic Research Programmes for the period 2013 to 2020.

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    Figure 1. Published items and yearly citations (except 2014) by NICPB in TR WoK database. Based on the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge (TR WoK) Essential Science Indicators NICPB is among the top 1% most cited research institutions in physics since May 1, 2013. During the past years the Institute has slightly grown in size but at the same time has also been rejuvenated. At the end of 2010, the Institute employed 113 people with the average age of 53 years, whereas at the end of 2014 we were 124-strong with the average age of 47 years.

  • I Research and Development (in alphabetic order)6 I Research and Development 6

    I Research and Development The Institute’s Strategic Research Programmes (SRP’s) are directly linked to the goals and priorities of both Framework 7 and Horizon 2020 and result from the key recommendations of the Institute’s Interna- tional Science Advisory Board (SAB) of July 28, 2012.

    During the past few years the national framework of financing of science has undergone major changes. The largest and most important part, the targeted financing, has been replaced by so-called institutional re- search funding (IRF, Estonian abbreviation: IUT; typically for a 6 year period) that should enable research and development institutions to fund high-level research and development activities and to modernise and maintain the necessary infrastructure. Towards that end the IUT is complemented with a 28% financial support. The personal research grants (PRF, Estonian abbreviation PUT, typically for a 4 year period) have also undergone changes and are now allocated as a start grant for graduates, research grant for high level research or as a post-doc grant. These two (IRF and PRF) are the largest funding instruments provided by the Estonian Research Council, the new national agency. Both institutional and personal funding instru- ments are competition-based grants.

    NICPB applied for IRF of 9 different themes in 2013 and we were successful to secure financing of 7 of them for the period of 2014 to 2019 (PIs: Ivo Heinmaa, Mario Kadastik, Anne Kahru, Tuuli Käämbre, Martti Raidal, Aleksander Rebane and Toomas Rõõm), although to a substantially lesser extent than an- ticipated. All the 7 themes are in concert with the recommendations of the SAB of 2012.

    In addition, we have applied for 6 personal grants (3 start and 3 research grants). Due to very heavy com- petition of 10 to 1 and to somewhat voluntary bending of the rules we were able to score only 1 PRF in the fall of 2013. All in all we have 2 PRF (Raivo Stern PUT210 (2013-2016) and Dan Hüvonen (PUT451 for 2014-2017).

    Furthermore, we have applied for 3 new IRF in 2014, namely “The role of diversity in complex systems” (PI Els Heinsalu, IUT39-1), “Interaction mechanism of bioactive compounds with various cell types” (PI Anu Aaspõllu, IUT39-2) and “Novel phases in strongly frustrated magnets” (PI Raivo Stern, IUT39-3). Eventually, Dr Heinsalu’s application was the only one to get funding (for 2015-2020), albeit to much lesser extent than asked for.

    Besides funding from national sources the Institute has acquired funding from European Social Fund, mediated by Estonian agencies, in the form of four (4) Mobilitas programme Top Researcher grants (here- inafter MTT) plus funding of a Centre of Excellence.

    Finally, the Institute was engaged in 18 R&D projects, including two FP7 (Nanovalid and MODERN; see SRP4.1) and one INTEREG IVA (RIMA, see SRP4.1) project, 8 co-operative R&D projects under different national programmes funded by ESF and 6 industry-oriented projects.

    SRP1. High Energy Physics and Theoretical Physics

    The most important open questions in contemporary elementary particle physics are the origin of mass and the physical mechanisms determining the state of the Universe (including Dark Matter and Energy). Current programme includes both theoretical work and numerous international experiments in particle physics and cosmology. The strategy of the Institute is to be involved both in the development of new theo- ries and in their experimental testing in forthcoming experiments.

  • I Research and Development 7

    1.1 Experimental High Energy Physics

    The sub-programme “Experimental high energy physics at the CMS experiment at LHC” is currently funded from IUT23-6.

    The sub-programme is also co-funded from MTT59 (Top Researcher Andrea Giammanco)

    Principal Investigator: Mario Kadastik, PhD Phone: +372 6466 670 E-mail: Web:

    In the experimental side NICPB is a member of the CMS collaboration of the forthcoming Large Hadron Collider at CERN. NICPB is the coordinator of Estonian scientists and summer students at CERN. As a spin-off of the experimental particle physics programme, a distributed computing concept Grid is under development and NICPB participates in it at both Estonian and European level. The Institute houses a Tier- 2 computing centre, which is one of the biggest computing centres for the CMS experiment in Europe.

    Currently the most important goal for the LHC experiments is to measure the properties of a recently dis- covered Higgs-like particle. The project aims to probe the Yukawa coupling between the Higgs boson and a top quark, which is an excellent test of the Standard Model. A good understanding of top-quark physics is achieved by studying the single top quark production that enables access to polarisation information and also gives a handle to probe physics beyond the Standard Model. Performing a search for a doubly charged Higgs boson provides a direct test for the possibility of an extended Higgs sector.


    Mario Kadastik, PhD Nicolo de Filippis, PhD

    Andrea Giammanco, PhD Mait Müntel, PhD (left NICPB on June 16, 2013)

    Liis Rebane, PhD Venkat Kaushik, PhD

    PhD Students

    Andres Tiko (UT)

    Degrees Defended Rebane, Liis. Measurement of the W- >tau nu cross section and a search for a doubly charged Higgs boson decaying to tau-lept